Out and About: Seller lives in Fantasyland.

Lincoln Center (Flickr photo by Stewart Morris)

He closed on the place only last May, when it was listed for $2.15 million.

There was a bidding war for the two-bedroom, two-terrace, two-bath penthouse in a Central Park block of the mid 60s, an area that is part of Lincoln Square.

Because of the so-called “war,” the current owner — who appears to be an advertising agency executive — paid $2.5 million for the co-op, which costs him $3,269 in maintenance a month.

But for undisclosed reasons relating to the seller’s inability to continue living in New York, according to the listing broker, the apartment went on the market again in early December with an asking price that boggles the mind.

It happens that I saw the co-op in a 1928 Rosario Candela building dripping with character when it was on the market last spring.  It impressed me then and continues to do so.

Viewed through French doors, the terraces north and west of the living room draw one into the apartment and undoubtedly would make most guests envious.  The ceilings are uncommonly high, there are views of Central Park, a wood-burning fireplace adds charm and the space could not be more inviting.

The distinguished Lincoln Square building has a part-time doorman and storage, bicycle and (free) laundry facilities.  It is pet friendly and permits pieds-à-terre.

Now for the unit’s issue:  It would greatly benefit from renovation.

The open kitchen is small, dated and easily extended into the living room.  The baths also have seen better days, and it would not be a bad idea to widen the entrance hallway.  Nor would it be a mistake to replace the tiled portion of the floors.

Obviously hoping — in vain, no doubt — to recoup his purchase price, the seller began asking an otherworldly $2.995 million for the co-op only half a year after he bought it.

Let’s do the math. His closing costs had to be around $30,000, give or take.

As seller, his costs will be considerably higher.  Including the broker’s probable commission, 2 percent flip tax and transfer taxes, the owner will have to absorb approximately $300,000 at settlement in the unimaginable event that he gets his initial offering price.

Thus, $2.995 million minus $300,000 equals $2.695 million.  Could he actually be looking for a “profit” or merely room for negotiation?

The seller obviously expects that he’ll have to agree to a price lower than the ask, but I have to give him credit for his chutzpah.  That the unit has been languishing on the market does suggest, however, it will be another while before this owner figures out the wisdom of his strategy.

Meantime, on to other properties that I’ve seen recently and that have been listed by various other brokers:

  • Despite its views of Central Park from a low floor of a 1900 low-rise, a dreary 1,000-sf co-op with some of its hardwood floors in notably poor condition.  There is an eat-in kitchen of a certain age with inexpensive improvements; a windowless home office that cuts into the master bedroom, which, like the tiny second bedroom, looks into a grim narrow courtyard; and a single bath with screaming pink tiles.  In a building that dislikes dogs and provides no doorman, this unit —  which first went on the market more than a year ago for $799,500 — still was asking a lot with a new broker even at $750,000 with monthly maintenance of $1,106.  Reduced to $725,000 in January and then to $699,000 last week, this apartment may now possess a glimmer of hope of finding a buyer.
  • A grubby one-bedroom apartment in a Riverside Park block of the low 80s.  This unit on the first floor has nothing going for it, especially the living room, which is essentially interior with a single narrow window looking into a dark courtyard.  The kitchen and bath are unremittingly ugly.  On the market in March for as much as $405,000 with maintenance of $715 per month, the co-op has suffered three price cuts, to no avail, finally to $349,000 before being taken off the market temporarily.
  • In the very low 70s on West End Avenue, a two-bedroom, two-bath co-op painted a riot of vivid colors and otherwise in need of cosmetic updating everywhere.  With a small galley kitchen that has mostly older appliances, an awkward space used as a den between the kitchen and the rest of the apartment, two vintage baths (one of them a memorable yellow), plenty of closets (one lined with cedar), dark-stained floors, exposures to the south and a hulking building that blocks any skyline views, this unit in a pet-friendly 1928 doorman building is not priced to sell even at its reduced offering price of $1.495 million (from $1.595 million) with monthly maintenance of $2,133. 
  • A two-bedroom corner apartment in the mid 90s on Central Park West.  Featuring a a surfeit of strange built-ins as room dividers (actually interrupters), an upscale kitchen, good views of the park, easy earshot of bus traffic, a nicely updated single bath and rooms of modest dimensions, this co-op in a 1920 doorman building was listed unreasonably for $1.295 million with maintenance of $1,748 a month until it went permanently off the market last week after an offer fell through.  

Tomorrow: Dying to sell

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Malcolm Carter
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022

M: 347-886-0248
F: 347-438-3201

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